SU2C Announces the Formation of a New Translational Research Ovarian Cancer “Dream Team”

Ovarian Cancer Community Joins Forces to Fight Deadliest Gynecologic Cancer. The New Stand Up To Cancer Dream Team Will Launch in 2015.

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, and the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Team Up to Fund New Translational Research Ovarian Cancer “Dream Team.”

 

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A groundbreaking collaboration is underway among three national ovarian cancer organizations: Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF), Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA), and National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC). In partnership with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), this group will fund a new Ovarian Cancer Dream Team dedicated to piloting leading-edge, ovarian cancer research that will help patients and save lives.

This partnership was announced tonight by actor Pierce Brosnan on the Stand Up To Cancer’s biennial telecast, and in recognition of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The SU2C-OCRF-OCNA-NOCC Translational Research Dream Team grant will provide funding, over a three-year period, for research associated with this insidious disease.

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all the gynecologic cancers. Almost 22,000 American women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014, and more than 14,000 women will lose their lives to the disease. By collaborating to fund an Ovarian Cancer Dream Team, OCRF, OCNA and NOCC, with SU2C, will further research in the field that can lead to new treatments and improved patient outcomes.

Later this month, SU2C, through its science partner the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), will issue a “Call for Ideas” from researchers and scientists worldwide. The selected Dream Team will be announced next spring, with research beginning in July 2015.

OCRF“Ovarian Cancer Research Fund has been the leading nonprofit funder of ovarian cancer research for years, and this new collaboration is a wonderful way to mark our 20th anniversary,” said Audra Moran, CEO of Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. “We are excited that the Dream Team grant will continue our long tradition of supporting the most innovative research in the field, while providing scientists with a vital new source of financial support.”

OCNA1Calaneet Balas, CEO of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, said: “I am so thrilled that our three organizations are coming together to fight the disease we all care so much about. I believe the Ovarian Cancer Dream Team will be paradigm-shifting for our community, and I cannot wait to see what comes from this new initiative. We’re proud of the work the Alliance has done to secure federal research funding on behalf of all women, but the Dream Team gives us new opportunities for collaboration and innovation.”

NOCC - Logo“We are both proud and excited to join in supporting the Ovarian Cancer Dream Team, the first-ever collaboration of such efforts,” said David Barley, CEO of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. “We are looking forward to being instrumental in furthering ovarian cancer research. The impacts on families and communities continue to make ovarian cancer “More Than a Woman’s Disease®.” By working together we hope to make a difference in the lives of everyone we touch.”

About the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF), founded in 1994, is the oldest and largest charity in the United States funding ovarian cancer research, and ranks third in overall ovarian cancer research funding only after the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Its mission is to fund scientific research that leads to more effective identification, treatment, and ultimately a cure for ovarian cancer, as well as related educational and support initiatives. OCRF has invested nearly $60 million in ovarian cancer research through 217 grants to scientists at 65 leading medical centers in the United States. OCRF continues to take the lead in funding the best and most promising ovarian cancer research while supporting women and their loved ones affected by this terrible disease in our quest to end it. For more information, please visit www.ocrf.org.

About the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance
The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is a powerful voice for everyone touched by ovarian cancer. We connect survivors, women at risk, caregivers, and health providers with the information and resources they need. We ensure that ovarian cancer is a priority for lawmakers and agencies in Washington, DC, and throughout the country. We help our community raise their voices on behalf of every life that has been affected by this disease. For more information, please visit: www.ovariancancer.org

About the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition
Since its inception in 1995, the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) has been committed to raising awareness, promoting education, and funding research in support of women, families, and communities touched by ovarian cancer. NOCC is well-established as an important national advocate for patients and families struggling with ovarian cancer. NOCC remains steadfast in its mission to save lives by fighting tirelessly to prevent and cure ovarian cancer, and to improve the quality of life for survivors. For more information, please visit: www.ovarian.org.

About Stand Up To Cancer
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) and a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2008 by film and media leaders who utilize the industry’s resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, and to increase awareness about cancer prevention as well as progress being made in the fight against the disease. For more information, please visit: www.standup2cancer.org

World Ovarian Cancer Day: One Voice for Every Woman

Each year, nearly a quarter of a million women around the world are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the disease is responsible for 140,000 deaths annually. Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years compared with 89% of women with breast cancer. We ask that you join us on World Ovarian Cancer Day (May 8th) in the fight against the most lethal form of gynecologic cancer.

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LEARN: World Ovarian Cancer Day — May 8, 2014

On May 8, join the global movement to raise awareness about ovarian cancer by pledging to spread the word about the most serious gynecological cancer during the second annual World Ovarian Cancer Day (WOCD). The pledge to pass on the awareness message to at least five friends will bring to life this year’s theme One Voice for Every Woman.

“The number one objective of World Ovarian Cancer Day is to increase awareness of this disease and to connect people internationally with the resources available to educate others,” says Elisabeth Baugh, chair of the WOCD international organizing committee and CEO of Ovarian Cancer Canada. “In our inaugural year, 28 cancer organizations from 18 countries participated in getting the word out, largely through social media. In 2014, we are not only inviting cancer organizations, but all interested groups internationally to register and partner with us. With our pledge, we are also involving individuals worldwide, and empowering them with information about ovarian cancer and a quick and easy way to pass on the word about the disease.”

All of those who sign the World Ovarian Cancer Day pledge at www.ovariancancerday.org will receive an e-card on May 8 with ovarian cancer risk and symptom information. This card is to be passed along to at least five friends, who in turn will be encouraged to pass it along to their friends.

Each year, nearly a quarter of a million women around the world are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the disease is responsible for 140,000 deaths annually. Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years compared with 89% of women with breast cancer. Women in developed and developing countries are similarly affected by ovarian cancer. There is no test for the early detection of ovarian cancer, a disease characterized around the world by a lack of awareness of symptoms and late stage diagnosis.

WOCD’s social media campaign includes the WOCD website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. To help raise awareness and show international involvement in the inaugural year, partner organizations and individuals from many countries wore teal and posed for photos in front of well-known landmarks holding signs featuring the WOCD “world embrace” logo.

These photographs were shared around the world. Other activities included public awareness events at train and subway stations, and information tables and education sessions at hospitals and cancer centers. These activities will continue to grow on May 8, 2014 along with governmental proclamations and “lighting the world in teal” – the color that represents ovarian cancer. Committee members Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, and Alison Amos, CEO, Ovarian Cancer Australia agree this is a wonderful opportunity. “World Ovarian Cancer Day is an important day for ovarian cancer organizations and communities around the world to unite and speak with one voice to raise awareness of ovarian cancer. We’re proud to be involved with this global initiative and will be passing the awareness message out among those we work with. This activity supports our vision to save lives and ensure that no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone.” “For women living with the disease and their families and friends, World Ovarian Cancer Day has tremendous meaning,” says Baugh. “Through this important day, we will continue to build momentum and a sense of solidarity in the fight against ovarian cancer. Every woman is at some risk for ovarian cancer and awareness remains our best defence.”

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EDUCATE: Ovarian Cancer Facts:

Libby’s H*O*P*E* is dedicated to my 26-year old cousin, Elizabeth “Libby” Remick, who died from ovarian cancer in July 2008. Our mission is to educate ovarian cancer survivors and their families, as well as the general public, about ovarian cancer under the principle that “information is power.” The key to a significant reduction in deaths from ovarian cancer is early detection. Early detection is best achieved by having women listen to their bodies for the subtle, yet persistent, early warning signs & symptoms of the disease as described below. Together, we can raise money for a reliable early detection test, and ultimately a cure, for ovarian cancer.

Please take time to educate yourself with respect to the important ovarian cancer awareness facts provided below.

–Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

–In 2014, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be approximately 21,980 new ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. ACS estimates that 14,270 U.S. women will die from the disease, or about 40 women per day. The loss of life is equivalent to 28 Boeing 747 jumbo jet crashes with no survivors every year.

–Ovarian cancer is not a “silent” disease; it is a “subtle” disease. Recent studies indicate that some women may experience persistent, nonspecific symptoms, such as (i) bloating, (ii) pelvic or abdominal pain, (iii) difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or (iv) urinary urgency or frequency. Women who experience such symptoms daily for more than a few weeks should seek prompt medical evaluation.

–Ovarian cancer can afflict adolescent, young adult, and mature women.

–Pregnancy and the long-term use of oral contraceptives reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

–Women who have had breast cancer, or who have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer may have increased risk. Inherited mutations in BRCA1/BRCA2 genes increase risk. Women of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry are at higher risk for BRCA gene mutations.

–There is no reliable screening test for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer. Pelvic examination only occasionally detects ovarian cancer, generally when the disease is advanced. A Pap smear is used to detect cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer. However, the combination of a thorough pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and a blood test for the tumor marker CA125 may be offered to women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer and to women who have persistent, unexplained symptoms like those listed above.

–If diagnosed at the localized stage, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rate is 92%; however, only about 19% of all cases are detected at this stage, usually fortuitously during another medical procedure.

–The 10-year relative survival rate for all disease stages combined is only 38%.

Please help us spread the word about the early warning signs & symptoms of ovarian cancer and raise money for ovarian cancer research. The life you save may be your own or that of a loved one.

FIGHT: The “Holy Trinity” of Major U.S. Ovarian Cancer Organizations

There are three major U.S. ovarian cancer organizations that are working to increase ovarian cancer awareness, and/or raise money to fight the disease. They are listed below. Please consider making a donation to one of these critically important nonprofit organizations.

  • Ovarian Cancer Research Fund

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) is the largest independent organization in the U.S. that is dedicated exclusively to funding ovarian cancer research– and to finding a cure. Through its three research programs, OCRF funds many of the best researchers and the most innovative projects.

Since 1998, OCRF has awarded 63 leading medical centers 195 grants for ovarian cancer research: an investment totaling over $50 million. OCRF researchers are taking on ovarian cancer from many angles:

— Developing innovative strategies for early detection;

— Discovering genetic polymorphisms that increase risk for ovarian cancer;

— Understanding the underlying genetics and molecular biology of ovarian cancer;

— Identifying new, better targets for treatment;

— Determining how to super-charge a woman’s immune response to better fight ovarian cancer; and

— Deciphering how and why ovarian cancer spreads, and how to stop it.

You can click here to make a donation to OCRF through the Libby’s H*O*P*E*’s donation page.

  • Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) is one of the foremost advocates for women with ovarian cancer in the U.S. To advance the interests of women with ovarian cancer, OCNA advocates at a national level for increases in research funding for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices, and life-saving treatment protocols. OCNA also educates health care professionals and raises public awareness of the risks and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

To make a donation to OCNA, click here.

  • National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

The mission of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) is to raise awareness and promote education about ovarian cancer. NOCC is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer.

Through national programs and local Chapter initiatives, the NOCC’s goal is to make more people aware of the early symptoms of ovarian cancer. In addition, the NOCC provides information to assist the newly diagnosed patient, to provide hope to survivors, and to support caregivers.

To make a donation to NOCC, click here.

INSPIRE: Everyday Heroes in the Fight Against Ovarian Cancer.

Nearly a quarter million women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year around the world, and the disease also affects their families and friends. Please take time to visit the WOCD website and read inspirational stories about survivors, volunteers, and family members who are overcoming ovarian cancer, as well as the endeavors people are taking on to raise awareness about the disease.

At Libby’s H*O*P*E*, we are amazed each and every day by the inspirational ovarian cancer survivors and family members that we hear about, correspond with, or meet. The stories below represent a small sample of incredible individuals who have successfully fought the disease, as well as those who are currently fighting the disease with courage and grace. There are also stories about women who have died from ovarian cancer, but contributed to ovarian cancer awareness in a unique and special way during life. In addition, there are stories about doctors, advocates, and other inspirational individuals who are clearly making a difference in the fight against the disease.

“Bald is Beautiful,” March 20, 2008.

“Patty Franchi Flaherty Loses Battle to Ovarian Cancer, But Deserves a Long Standing Ovation,” August 19, 2008.

“Oscar Winner Kathy Bates Is an Inspirational Ovarian Cancer Survivor,” February 25, 2009.

— “Rare Form of Ovarian Cancer Not Getting Inspirational 13 Yr. Old Down; You Can Help!,” February 26, 2009.

— “Meet Laurey Masterton, 20-Year Ovarian Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire,” March 20, 2009.

— “The Rock Band ‘N.E.D.’: Their Medical Skills Save Many; Their Music Could Save Thousands,” March 29, 2009.

“A Wish To Build A Dream On,” May 3, 2009.

“Husband’s Love For Wife Inspires A 9,000 Mile Bike Trek To Raise Money For Ovarian Cancer Awareness & Cancer Prevention,” May 14, 2009.

“Gloria Johns Was Told ‘Ovarian Cancer Patients Don’t Live Long Enough … To Have Support Groups;’ She Proved Otherwise,” June 5, 2009.

“Vox Populi:* How Do Your Define “Tragedy?“, January 22, 2010.

— “Smile, Open Your Eyes, Love and Go On,” July 28, 2010.

“PBS Documentary, ‘The Whisper: The Silent Crisis of Ovarian Cancer,'” September 21, 2010.

“Determined Teen Loses Ovarian Cancer Battle, But Her Courage Inspires An Entire Community,” December 28, 2010.

“Mrs. Australia Quest Finalist Veronica Cristovao Is Raising Ovarian Cancer Awareness ‘Down Under'”, February 28, 2011.

— “Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go …”, July 28, 2012.

— “Crowd Funding:” Paying Medical Bills With a Little Help From Your Friends (and Strangers Too!), January 17, 2013.

___________________________

For more information on World Ovarian Cancer Day visit: www.ovariancancerday.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WorldOvarianCancerDay

Twitter: @OvarianCancerDY

Pinterest: @OvarianCancerDY

Each participating country is linked through the dedicated website which has been established for World Ovarian Cancer Day. To find out more about activities in each country, please contact the local organization directly through the website at http://www.ovariancancerday.org/get-involved/

Broadway Star Valisia LeKae Debuts Ovarian Cancer PSA in Times Square

 “God has given me another role to play and like all my previous roles, I plan to go all in, only this time I plan to Win!” — Broadway star Valisia LeKae

Broadway star Valisia LeKae is a 2013 Tony Award nominee for “Best Actress in a Musical” for her performance as Diana Ross in “Motown: The Musical.”In addition to “Motown: The Musical,” LeKae has appeared on Broadway in “The Book of Mormon,” “Ragtime,” “110 in the Shade.” and “The Threepenny Opera.”

In possibly the most important role of her life, Valisia is a passionate ovarian cancer survivor, who wants to educate women of all ages about the importance of diagnosing and treating the disease in its early stages.

LeKae’s Ovarian Cancer Journey

Valisia’s ovarian cancer journey began in September 2013 when she was diagnosed with a supposedly benign cyst on her right ovary that was associated with endometriosis (called an “endometrioma“). Over a short period of time, LeKae’s cyst grew rapidly, and ultimately, it required surgical removal. Based upon a pathologist’s examination of the cyst that was removed from LeKae during surgery, she was diagnosed with ovarian clear cell carcinoma (OCCC) in December 2013.

In its purest form, OCCC is an aggressive form of epithelial ovarian cancer that is often chemoresistant. I learned this fact firsthand after my 26-year cousin, Elizabeth “Libby” Remick, lost her battle to OCCC in July 2008. This website is dedicated to Libby’s memory.

Valisia LeKae shared her ovarian cancer diagnosis publicly through her Facebook page with the stated intent to educate women of all ages about the disease, including those who have no family history of ovarian cancer:

“On, Nov 22, 2013, I had laparoscopic surgery to remove an endometrioma from my right ovary. A sample was taken from that endometrioma and on December 2, 2013, my pathology results reveled that I was positive for Ovarian Clear Cell Carcinoma, Ovarian Cancer. After receiving a second opinion it was confirmed by my Gynecologic Oncologist on Dec 9, 2013, that the diagnosis had been correct.

Per the advice of my doctor, I will need to have another surgery (unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy) as well as chemotherapy. I am scheduled for Thursday (December 19, 2013 ) and chemotherapy soon thereafter.

‘Ovarian Cancer mainly develops in older women. About half of the women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 63 years or older. It is more common in white women that African-American women (Cancer.org).’

As a 34 year old, African American woman, I feel that it is important that I share my story in order to educate and encourage others about this disease and the fight against it.

2013 has been full of blessings, from being nominated for a prestigious Tony Award for my portrayal of “Diana Ross” in Motown The Musical as well as many other accolades. God has given me another role to play and like all my previous roles, I plan to go all in, only this time I plan to Win!”

On April 29, 2014, Valisia announced publicly on Twitter that her ovarian cancer was in complete remission (technically known as “no evidence of disease” or “N.E.D.”) by using the celebratory hashtag “#CANCERFREE.”

 

“Know Your Body, Know Your Risk” Ovarian Cancer Awareness Campaign and Public Service Announcement

Today, Ms. LeKae joined her gynecological oncologist David Fishman, M.D., Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at The Mount Sinai Hospital, and Director and Founder of the Mount Sinai Ovarian Cancer Risk Assessment Program, and executives from Toshiba, for the debut of a 30-second Public Service Announcement (PSA) promoting Ovarian Cancer Awareness. The ovarian cancer PSA premiere was broadcasted this afternoon on the Toshiba Vision Screens located at 46th Street and 7th Avenue in New York City. The iconic Toshiba screens are located in Times Square.

Rising 400 feet above street level in the visually dynamic surroundings of colorful Times Square billboards, striking black and white portraits of the stunning Broadway performer (photographed by Peter Hapak) will be broadcast on the Toshiba Vision screens as part of a two-week Ovarian Cancer Awareness public service campaign,  entitled “Know Your Body, Know Your Risk.” The ovarian cancer PSA was produced by Spotco with assistance from the Mount Sinai Health System.

The Mount Sinai Ovarian Cancer Risk Assessment Program PSA will continue to broadcast every six minutes, 24-hours per day through May 15th.

“Dr. Fishman and the Mount Sinai team helped to save my life, so I want to give back by helping to educate and encourage others about this disease and the fight against it,” said Valisia LeKae.

While only the 11th most common cancer among U.S. women, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among women. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest form of gynecologic cancer. In 2014, approximately 22,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and 14,000 will die from the disease. To learn more about ovarian cancer, click here.

*          *          *

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Valisia LeKae for using her celebrity to raise public awareness about the most lethal gynecologic cancer. Valisia’s ovarian cancer advocacy will certainly not garner her a Tony Award, but in the eyes of all ovarian cancer survivors and their family members, it represents not only a job well done, but a life well spent.

Sources:

  • “Broadway Star Valisia LeKae To Debut Ovarian Cancer PSA,” LooktotheStars.org, May 1, 2014.
  •  “Valisia LeKae Reveals Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis, Withdraws from Broadway’s MOTOWN THE MUSICAL,” Broadwayworld.com, December 17, 2013.

 

Inaugural World Ovarian Cancer Day: “World Embrace” to Learn, Educate, Fight & Inspire

May 8th, 2013, is the first World Ovarian Cancer Day. On this day, 26 ovarian cancer organizations from 17 countries around the world will unite to educate their communities about ovarian cancer and its symptoms. For women living with the disease, and their families and friends, World Ovarian Cancer Day will build a sense of solidarity in the fight against ovarian cancer.

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“LEARN:” Inaugural World Ovarian Cancer Day — May 8, 2013

Ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of all gynecologic cancers, and is characterized around the world by a lack of awareness of symptoms and late stage diagnosis.

Today, May 8th, 2013, is the first World Ovarian Cancer Day (WOCD). On this day, ovarian cancer organizations from around the world will unite to educate their communities about ovarian cancer and its symptoms. For women living with the disease, and their families and friends, World Ovarian Cancer Day will build a sense of solidarity in the fight against the disease.

In 2009, representatives from patient organizations working in ovarian cancer around the globe came together for the first time in a two day workshop, to discuss the common issues they faced in their work.

Unlike more common cancers, there are significant challenges as the disease has been largely overlooked and underfunded to this point. Symptoms which are similar to those of less serious illnesses, the absence of an early detection test, and the resulting late diagnosis and poor outcomes means there are few survivors of the disease to become advocates. This initial meeting galvanized the community to begin thinking about what could be accomplished on a global level to begin changing this situation.

By coming together since that first meeting, the group has considered the many gaps in understanding and managing the disease, building awareness in the general public about symptoms and the importance of family history, and increasing funding for research .The idea of a Global Awareness Day for Ovarian Cancer was put forward and embraced by all participants as an important joint international action creating a powerful momentum.

A brand for World Ovarian Cancer Day, “World Embrace,” was developed and launched to the international group in March 2013 in preparation for this important day.

WOCDLate_Diagnosis_large1-980x600

“EDUCATE:” Ovarian Cancer Facts:

Libby’s H*O*P*E* is dedicated to my 26-year old cousin, Elizabeth “Libby” Remick, who died from ovarian cancer in July 2008. Our mission is to educate ovarian cancer survivors and their families, as well as the general public, about ovarian cancer under the principle that “information is power.” The key to a significant reduction in deaths from ovarian cancer is early detection. Early detection is best achieved by having women listen to their bodies for the subtle, yet persistent, early warning signs & symptoms of the disease as described below. Together, we can raise money for a reliable early detection test, and ultimately a cure, for ovarian cancer.

Please take time to educate yourself with respect to the important ovarian cancer awareness facts provided below.

–Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

–In 2012, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be approximately 22,280 new ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. ACS estimates that 15,550 U.S. women will die from the disease, or about 43 women per day. The loss of life is equivalent to 28 Boeing 747 jumbo jet crashes with no survivors every year.

–Ovarian cancer is not a “silent” disease; it is a “subtle” disease. Recent studies indicate that some women may experience persistent, nonspecific symptoms, such as (i) bloating, (ii) pelvic or abdominal pain, (iii) difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or (iv) urinary urgency or frequency. Women who experience such symptoms daily for more than a few weeks should seek prompt medical evaluation.

–Ovarian cancer can afflict adolescent, young adult, and mature women.

–Pregnancy and the long-term use of oral contraceptives reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

–Women who have had breast cancer, or who have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer may have increased risk. Inherited mutations in BRCA1/BRCA2 genes increase risk. Women of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry are at higher risk for BRCA gene mutations.

–There is no reliable screening test for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer. Pelvic examination only occasionally detects ovarian cancer, generally when the disease is advanced. A Pap smear is used to detect cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer. However, the combination of a thorough pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and a blood test for the tumor marker CA125 may be offered to women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer and to women who have persistent, unexplained symptoms like those listed above.

–If diagnosed at the localized stage, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rate is 92%; however, only about 19% of all cases are detected at this stage, usually fortuitously during another medical procedure.

–The 10-year relative survival rate for all disease stages combined is only 38%.

Please help us spread the word about the early warning signs & symptoms of ovarian cancer and raise money for ovarian cancer research. The life you save may be your own or that of a loved one.

“FIGHT:” The “Holy Trinity” of Major U.S. Ovarian Cancer Organizations

There are three major U.S. ovarian cancer organizations that are working to increase ovarian cancer awareness, and/or raise money to fight the disease. They are listed below. Please consider making a donation to one of these critically important nonprofit organizations.

  • Ovarian Cancer Research Fund

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) is the largest independent organization in the U.S. that is dedicated exclusively to funding ovarian cancer research– and to finding a cure. Through its three research programs, OCRF funds many of the best researchers and the most innovative projects.

Since 1998, OCRF has awarded 63 leading medical centers 195 grants for ovarian cancer research: an investment totaling over $50 million. OCRF researchers are taking on ovarian cancer from many angles:

— Developing innovative strategies for early detection;

— Discovering genetic polymorphisms that increase risk for ovarian cancer;

— Understanding the underlying genetics and molecular biology of ovarian cancer;

— Identifying new, better targets for treatment;

— Determining how to super-charge a woman’s immune response to better fight ovarian cancer; and

— Deciphering how and why ovarian cancer spreads, and how to stop it.

You can click here to make a donation to OCRF through the Libby’s H*O*P*E*’s donation page.

  • Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) is one of the foremost advocates for women with ovarian cancer in the U.S. To advance the interests of women with ovarian cancer, OCNA advocates at a national level for increases in research funding for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices, and life-saving treatment protocols. OCNA also educates health care professionals and raises public awareness of the risks and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

To make a donation to OCNA, click here.

  • National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

The mission of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) is to raise awareness and promote education about ovarian cancer. NOCC is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer.

Through national programs and local Chapter initiatives, the NOCC’s goal is to make more people aware of the early symptoms of ovarian cancer. In addition, the NOCC provides information to assist the newly diagnosed patient, to provide hope to survivors, and to support caregivers.

To make a donation to NOCC, click here.

“INSPIRE:” Everyday Heroes in the Fight Against Ovarian Cancer.

Nearly a quarter million women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year around the world, and the disease also affects their families and friends. Please take time to visit the WOCD website and read inspirational stories about survivors, volunteers, and family members who are overcoming ovarian cancer, as well as the endeavors people are taking on to raise awareness about the disease.

At Libby’s H*O*P*E*, we are amazed each and every day by the inspirational ovarian cancer survivors and family members that we hear about, correspond with, or meet. The stories below represent a small sample of incredible individuals who have successfully fought the disease, as well as those who are currently fighting the disease with courage and grace. There are also stories about women who have died from ovarian cancer, but contributed to ovarian cancer awareness in a unique and special way during life. In addition, there are stories about doctors, advocates, and other inspirational individuals who are clearly making a difference in the fight against the disease.

“Bald is Beautiful,” March 20, 2008.

“Patty Franchi Flaherty Loses Battle to Ovarian Cancer, But Deserves a Long Standing Ovation,” August 19, 2008.

“Oscar Winner Kathy Bates Is an Inspirational Ovarian Cancer Survivor,” February 25, 2009.

— “Rare Form of Ovarian Cancer Not Getting Inspirational 13 Yr. Old Down; You Can Help!,” February 26, 2009.

— “Meet Laurey Masterton, 20-Year Ovarian Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire,” March 20, 2009.

— “The Rock Band ‘N.E.D.’: Their Medical Skills Save Many; Their Music Could Save Thousands,” March 29, 2009.

“A Wish To Build A Dream On,” May 3, 2009.

“Husband’s Love For Wife Inspires A 9,000 Mile Bike Trek To Raise Money For Ovarian Cancer Awareness & Cancer Prevention,” May 14, 2009.

“Gloria Johns Was Told ‘Ovarian Cancer Patients Don’t Live Long Enough … To Have Support Groups;’ She Proved Otherwise,” June 5, 2009.

“Vox Populi:* How Do Your Define “Tragedy?“, January 22, 2010.

— “Smile, Open Your Eyes, Love and Go On,” July 28, 2010.

“PBS Documentary, ‘The Whisper: The Silent Crisis of Ovarian Cancer,'” September 21, 2010.

“Determined Teen Loses Ovarian Cancer Battle, But Her Courage Inspires An Entire Community,” December 28, 2010.

“Mrs. Australia Quest Finalist Veronica Cristovao Is Raising Ovarian Cancer Awareness ‘Down Under'”, February 28, 2011.

— “Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go …”, July 28, 2012.

— “Crowd Funding:” Paying Medical Bills With a Little Help From Your Friends (and Strangers Too!), January 17, 2013.

___________________________

For more information on World Ovarian Cancer Day visit: www.ovariancancerday.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WorldOvarianCancerDay

Twitter: @OvarianCancerDY

Pinterest: @OvarianCancerDY

Each participating country is linked through the dedicated website which has been established for World Ovarian Cancer Day. To find out more about activities in each country, please contact the local organization directly through the website at http://www.ovariancancerday.org/get-involved/

“Crowd Funding:” Paying Medical Bills With a Little Help From Your Friends (and Strangers Too!)

An interesting article appearing in USA Today on January 14, written by Cheryl Alkon, describes the use of “crowd funding” to assist individuals who may be experiencing tough financial times — or even bankruptcy — due to, among other things, medical costs, including those incurred to treat cancer.

What is “Crowd Funding?”

The term “crowd funding” describes the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, generally through the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. For example, crowd funding can be used to support disaster relief, citizen journalism, political campaigns, startup company funding, movie or software development, and scientific research.

Crowd funding is even taking on national significance through enacted federal legislation. In April 2012, President Obama signed the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, which enables entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses to raise funds and gather investors through equity crowd funding.

An interesting article appearing in USA Today on January 14, written by Cheryl Alkon, describes the use of crowd funding to assist individuals who may be experiencing tough financial times — or even bankruptcy — due to, among other things, medical costs, including those incurred to treat cancer. The crowd funding websites listed by Alkon include: the Human Tribe Project (humantribeproject.com), GiveForward (giveforward.com), FundRazr (fundrazr.com), and GoFundMe (gofundme.com).

It is estimated that $2.8 billion was raised by all types of crowdfunding websites in 2012.

In an era when social media and networking reign supreme, most individuals have “friends,” and even “friends of friends.” At this point, you should be thinking about The Beatles song entitled, A Little Help From My Friends, which the group recorded on their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in 1967. Or perhaps, you prefer Joe Cocker’s cover version of the song, which he sang at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. But, I digress. So, let’s turn to a great example of crowding funding used to support medical costs.

The Genesis of the Human Tribe Project

Group Formal

The Human Tribe Project Leadership Team: (left-to-right) Ryan Foutz, Jaclyn Foutz, Matt Foutz, and Steve Bever.

The concept of crowd funding within the context of cancer treatment is best understood through the genesis of The Human Tribe Project.

In early 2008, Jaclyn Foutz learned that her longtime friend, Kindra McLennan, had been diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer. Not knowing how to help Kindra, who lived 1,500 miles away, Jaclyn did what anyone thirty-something would do: she turned to Google®.

Her search turned up various websites listing ways to help support and encourage a friend through cancer, and of those, some even suggested fundraising ideas. Realizing that they could not be there to hold Kindra’s hand through the chemotherapy and radiation, Jaclyn and her friends decided to raise money for Kindra and her husband to relieve the financial burden associated with her cancer treatment. Jaclyn identified websites suggesting fundraising options, but all seemed too local and small in scope to have the kind of impact that she and her friends wanted. At the time, Jaclyn’s husband, Ryan Foutz, his brother, Matt Foutz, and Ryan’s childhood friend, Steve Bever, owned a wholesale jewelry company. They donated turquoise beads, and Jaclyn and her friends sold turquoise necklaces in support of Kindra. They sold the necklaces in-person to friends, relatives and coworkers, and by e-mail to people in Kindra’s support network all across the country.

The project was a huge success; they sold 350 necklaces and raised $10,000. They were inspired by the breadth of Kindra’s network of friends and the willingness of complete strangers to buy the necklaces.

Initially, Kindra refused to take handouts from her friends and family; however, when she knew her friends and family were receiving a necklace in return for their monetary donation, her concerns were alleviated. And, when Kindra saw everyone from her best friend to her chemotherapy nurse wearing the necklaces, she felt an emotional support as great as the financial support that she had received.

After extensive research, Jaclyn and Ryan learned that there were no resources available to do what they did on a larger, commercial scale. They found companies selling products in an effort to raise money for non-profits, foundations, or research institutions, but none raised money directly for individuals during their time of need.

During their research process, they were astonished to learn about the financial burden that individuals suffering from an illness often face. For example, with respect to breast cancer alone, it is estimated that out-of-pocket expenditures and lost-income costs for women with insurance coverage average $1,455.00 per month. The majority of those out-of-pocket costs are related to co-payments, hospitalizations, and specialist visits.

In 2006, twenty-five percent of cancer patients reported that they had to use all or most of their savings to deal with cancer treatment costs. Approximately fifty percent of all personal bankruptcies filed in the U.S. are filed due to medical expenses. Also, researchers have found that there is a strong connection between emotional support and healthcare outcomes. Jaclyn and Ryan found these statistics astounding; there was a better way to aid individuals and enhance the benefits of strong support networks.

Through all of this, Jaclyn, Ryan, Matt, and Steve saw firsthand the power of the humanitarian spirit and how that spirit connects us all. It was from this experience that Human Tribe Project was born.

Ultimately, Kindra McLennan used some of the funds raised on the website to take a trip to Las Vegas for her 30th birthday, four months before she died. “If that’s what you feel you need to use the money for, that’s one of the things you can do when you know the people who are donating to you,” Jaclyn Foutz says. The Human Tribe Project website launched  in early 2009, six months after McLennan’s death.

Not only were Kindra’s friends and family able to raise approximately $10,000 on her behalf, but Kindra could see their love and support in every necklace that was worn. The Human Tribe Project website is dedicated to Kindra’s memory.

After helping establish the Human Tribe project, Matt Foutz never anticipated using the service for his own family. Two years ago, Mathew’s daughter Mia was diagnosed with a brain tumor, called a “medulloblastoma,” at the age of five. Mia received surgery, months of chemotherapy, and radiation treatment, the net result of which was permanent memory, mobility and endocrine issues. Through crowd funding, Matthew Foutz has already raised $11,520 for Mia.

Thoughts From Those In the Field

The USA Today article cites several individuals who are actively involved, directly or indirectly, in the field of crowd funding.

Catherine Chapman, a philanthropic consultant with Fullanthropy, a Louisville, Ky., consulting firm that advises non-profits on charitable best practices said:

Crowd funding is doing what has always been done, but taking the technology we have to make it viral. People give on these sites often because they have been asked to do so by a friend or a friend of a friend. The personal element is a lot more compelling than sending a check to a charity. Doing that is anonymous and you can’t relate, but if it’s your friend who has cancer, you want to help.”

Daryl Hatton, the founder and CEO of FundRazr, said:

“People know who they are donating to, but one of the big surprises is that people saw how many complete strangers were donating to them. The message has to really resonate with your friends, or else it won’t go anywhere. If you don’t get that social proof, then people don’t get donations. Our natural skepticism kicks in, and they hold back on hitting that button.”

According to the USA Today article, it appears that scams are rare. “Scammers tend to lack social-media followings, as they don’t want to identify themselves,” said Hatton. “Those with integrity have networks. To give you scale, approximately one in 5,000 medical FundRazrs get shut down.”

In the end, a cancer patient can use a crowdfunding site to tell his or her story about why money is needed, using blogs and updates to keep potential donors informed. Most websites collect donations and forward them directly to the person in need. The websites can take out a small portion of the donation for administrative and other costs, which can range from 5%-20% of funds raised. It is important to note that most crowd funding websites are not tax-exempt, non-profit organizations, and therefore, donations are not considered tax-deductible.

The USA Today article provides a few common sense tips to those who may be interested in crowd funding: (i) perform thorough due diligence on various websites beyond looking for a nice appearance (i.e., evaluate news stories, customer reviews, complaints,  etc.); (ii) research online tips for writing a compelling narrative about yourself and the need for money; (iii) give frequent updates (as most blog writers learn quickly); and (iv) know that fundraising is time-consuming, but realize that you are your own best advocate.

There is a saying that “to the world you may only be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” For those of you who may be thinking about helping a cancer survivor through crowd funding, keep in mind that “grand” opportunities to help others seldom arise, but small, yet critical, opportunities surround us everyday.

Sources:

“Crowdfunding” sites pay medical bills, raise hopes, written by Cheryl Alkon, USA Today, January 14, 2013.

“Company Background,” Media Packet, The Human Tribe Project, www.humantribeproject.com.

“Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go …”

Today, we celebrate the life of Elizabeth (“Libby”) Remick on the fourth anniversary of her passing — July 28, 2008.

Elizabeth Kay Remick (1982 – 2008)

Today, we celebrate the life of Elizabeth (“Libby”) Remick on the fourth anniversary of her passing — July 28, 2008. Libby was only 26 years old when she died from ovarian clear cell cancer. The Libby’s H*O*P*E* website is dedicated to Elizabeth’s memory.

Some people come into our lives and quickly go.
Some people stay for awhile,
and move our souls to dance.
They awaken us to a new understanding,
leave footprints on our hearts,
and we are never, ever the same.
— Flavia Weedn

As many of you know, we consider Libby the driving force and inspiration behind our ongoing support work for ovarian cancer survivors and their families. Libby’s spirit inspires us on a daily basis. We believe that Libby’s eternal love and support of ovarian cancer survivors and their families are limitless; this is especially true when the situation is labeled “hopeless.” We were reminded of this fact earlier this week after coming across a touching story dating back to 1940, which epitomizes the close and unbreakable bond between the U.S. and Great Britain — quite apropos given the opening of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London yesterday.

Between September 7, 1940 and May 16, 1941, the German Luftwaffe (air force) engaged in a bombing campaign designed to demoralize the British people into surrender while destroying the country’s economic war production. At one point, London (and 16 other British cities) were bombed on 57 consecutive nights during the German air campaign. As a result of the German raids, more than 40,000 civilians (almost half of them in London) were killed, and more than one million London homes were destroyed or damaged.  The history books simply refer to this desperate and seemingly hopeless time period in England as “the Blitz” (derived from the German word “blitzkrieg,” meaning “lighting war”).

During this extremely difficult time period, Winston Churchill, England’s Prime Minister, knew that he had to rouse the British people to resist Adolf Hitler’s armed forces. Churchill also understood that England alone could not defeat Germany, and he recognized early on that the assistance of the U.S. would be necessary for ultimate victory. Churchill eagerly sought out U.S. assistance, and ultimately, American participation in support of England’s war effort.

The actions taken by Churchill to encourage U.S. assistance included welcoming the emissaries that were sent by President Franklin D. Roosevelt; foremost among them was Harry L. Hopkins. As Roosevelt’s closest wartime aide, Harry Hopkins played a crucial role in nurturing the Anglo-American partnership. At the direction of President Roosevelt, Harry Hopkins journeyed to England in the midst of the Blitz, and he later convinced the U.S. President that Churchill and the British people would fight on to the end, and therefore, must be supported at any cost.  During Hopkins’ visit, he spoke directly to Churchill about America’s strong support of England, regardless of the circumstances.

In January 1941, at the end of his visit with Churchill, Harry Hopkins summarized American support, as part of a dinner toast, by referencing the unbreakable bond of loyalty cited in the Book of Ruth 1:16, which begins with Ruth’s plea to a close family relative during difficult times: ” Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee …”  In his toast, and with a deeply emotional tone, Hopkins simply recited the remainder of that biblical verse:

“‘Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God’ — even to the end.”

According to those present at the dinner, Hopkins’ vow of American loyalty reduced the English Prime Minister to tears. Winston Churchill knew exactly what Hopkins meant, and he later stated: “Harry Hopkins’ impromptu sermon seemed like a rope thrown to a drowning man.” In the end, Hitler’s Blitz did not achieve its intended goal of demoralizing the British people into surrender; rather, it caused them to unite among themselves and forge an unbreakable bond with the U.S., which led to ultimate victory.

We know that if Libby were alive today, she would extend the same loyalty, perseverance, hope, and support towards ovarian cancer survivors and their families, similar to that cited in The Book of Ruth 1:16.  Libby’s H*O*P*E* represents the physical manifestation of Libby’s spirit, including the steadfast support of all ovarian cancer survivors and their families during difficult times.

Although Libby is no longer physically present among us, a traditional Native American Prayer reminds us that she remains forever present in our lives:

I give you this one thought to keep –
I am with you still – I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the sweet uplifting rush,
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone –
I am with you still in each new dawn.

— Traditional Native American Prayer

Libby, we love you, miss you, and will never forget you. We do not think of you “as gone,” and we know that you are with us “in each new dawn.” Thank you for your life and eternal inspiration.

___________________

Related Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ Postings:

  • The Mirror: “What is the Meaning of Life?”, by Paul Cacciatore, July 28, 2011.
  • “Smile, Open Your Eyes, Love and Go On.,” by Paul Cacciatore, July 28, 2010.
  • Vox Populi*: Libby, We’ll Be Missing You, by Paul Cacciatore, July 28, 2009.
  • A Requiem Hallelujah, But Don’t Let There Be a Hole in the World Tomorrow, by Paul Cacciatore, July 28, 2008.

An Attitude of Gratitude On Thanksgiving Day

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie

Today, many of us will celebrate a national day of Thanksgiving with family and friends. You know the drill — eating turkey, mash potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin or apple pie; watching football (your pick of Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins vs. Dallas Cowboys, or San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens); and napping, after which the whole cycle begins anew.

Why Be Grateful?

Within this traditional celebration, it is all too easy for us to lose sight of the real meaning of the holiday; that is, to give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us in our daily lives. Yesterday, I overheard two adults speaking about Thanksgiving in a grocery store line. One individual said to the second in a serious tone: “What do I have to be thankful for?” At first blush, it seems like a fair question when you consider the following:

  • The U.S. is currently engaged in two major armed conflicts. As of November 22, the total number of Americans killed in Afghanistan and Iraq is 4,984, and the number of wounded is over 47,000. The conflict in Afghanistan hit the 10-year mark in October. In contrast, the U.S. forced the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany and the Imperial Empire of Japan in 3 years and 8 months, thereby ending World War II in August 1945.
  • The U.S. is experiencing the worst economic downturn since “The Great Depression” of the 20th century.
  • The bipartisan U.S. Congressional “Super Committee” failed to reach agreement on $1.2 trillion of federal budget spending cuts over the next ten years, as part of Congress’ ongoing theater of the absurd in which its utter and total failure is “spun” as success.
  • The U.S. Congress’ approval rating, based upon a recent New York Times poll, sits at an all-time low of 9 percent. By comparison, former President Richard Nixon’s final approval rating after the Watergate Scandal and upon his resignation was 23%.
  • The U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) continues to fight for increased federal funding for cancer research in a time when 50% of men and 33% of women woman will experience cancer at some point during their lifetimes.
  • It is estimated that 15,460 U.S. women will die from ovarian cancer in 2011, which represents the death of one woman every 37 minutes. The annual U.S. ovarian cancer death toll is equal to the number of passenger deaths that would result from 30 Boeing 747 airplane crashes every year.
  • According to a recently published U.K. report, the median survival of women with ovarian cancer only increased from 8 months to 3 years over the past 40 years.

There is little doubt that the current state of U.S. affairs as described above is indeed daunting. The unsettling situation in the U.S., however, pales in comparison to the average life experience of those living in extreme poverty around the world (including the U.S.).

  • In 2005, the World Bank reported that 1.4 billion people in the developing world (one in four) were living on less than US$1.25 per day, of which 162 million live on less than $0.50 per day. The latter category of individuals are referred to as the “ultra poor” by the International Food Policy Research Institute.
  • Number of children in the world: 2.2 billion. Number of children living in poverty: 1 billion.
  • According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS today, with 2 million AIDS-related deaths anticipated each year. It is estimated that 76% of those deaths will occur in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The United Nations estimates that 34,000 children and 16,000 adults die each day from hunger or preventable diseases with poverty-related causes. The annual death total is 18 million per year, which is nearly two times greater than the total number of deaths that occurred throughout “The Holocaust” between 1933 and 1945.
  • Approximately 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to clean water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation. Approximately 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water, and the individuals represented by the 12 percent do not live in the Third World.
  • In 1997, it was estimated that less than 1 percent of annual world weapons expenditures was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000.
  • Nearly one billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
  • 1.6 billion people live without electricity.
  • The U.S. has the widest gap between rich and poor of any industrialized nation.
  • In 2008, 7.6 million people died of cancer or 13% of all deaths worldwide. About 70% of all cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

In light of the above-mentioned global poverty statistics, it should be possible for even the most pessimistic U.S. citizen to be grateful on Thanksgiving Day. For the women and families who are dealing with ovarian cancer in their lives, we also believe that gratitude and hope is not only possible; it is essential.

  • While cancers (including ovarian) constitute an incredibly diverse and bewilderingly complex set of diseases, we have at hand the methods to identify essentially all of the genetic changes in a cell and to use that knowledge to rework the landscape of cancer research and cancer care, from basic science to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • With this better understanding of cancer and recent technological advances in many fields, such as genomics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and computational sciences, progress has been made on many fronts, and a portrait is beginning to emerge for several cancers including ovarian.
  • It has been established that there are at least four major subtypes of epithelial ovarian cancer which should be treated as separate and distinct diseases.
  • In The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) study findings recently published with respect to the most common form of epithelial ovarian cancer, the investigators reported that a class of drugs known as “PARP inhibitors” may benefit up to 50% of high-grade, serous ovarian cancer (HGS-OvCa) survivors. In that same study, the investigators identified 22 genomic targets that occur in 10% or more of these cases, along with nearly 100 preclinical, clinical and FDA-approved drugs which are capable of “hitting” those targets.
  • The TCGA study of HGS-OvCa is arguably the world’s largest genomic study of any form of cancer to date.
  • Never before in human history has so much healthcare information been so readily available to the general public, thereby allowing cancer survivors and their families to proactively participate with their doctors in decisions relating to cancer diagnoses, treatments, and survivorship.
  • Given the rapid technological and pharmacological developments described above, it is important to “live to fight another day.”
  • Studies suggest that gratitude may improve overall health by leading to (i) better diet, (ii) increased amounts of exercise, (iii) reduced stress, and (iv) a stronger immune system. In other words, if you want to promote health, try giving thanks.

Thanksgiving In Times of Adversity & Plenty

“… As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives. Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come. …” — President Barack Obama

On November 16, 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation for Thanksgiving Day 2011. The proclamation is befitting of the true meaning underlying this traditional holiday. Although the origins of the modern U.S. Thanksgiving holiday can be traced back to the early 17th century, it is worth noting that the first Thanksgiving to be celebrated by all U.S. states on the same day (i.e., the final Thursday of November, which was not enacted into law by Congress until December 1941) was first proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863. The year 1863 was arguably one of the darkest time periods in U.S. history because it occurred in the midst of the Civil War; a conflict that pitted brother against brother, and resulted in more American deaths than all subsequent U.S. conflicts combined. Despite that fact, President Lincoln believed strongly that we should give thanks for our daily blessings even in times of great adversity.

The main text of President Obama’s proclamation, which is provided below, echoes the sentiments of Lincoln and reminds all Americans that in good times and bad times, “… we have lifted our hearts by giving humble thanks for the blessings we have received and for those who bring meaning to our lives.”

“One of our Nation’s oldest and most cherished traditions, Thanksgiving Day brings us closer to our loved ones and invites us to reflect on the blessings that enrich our lives. The observance recalls the celebration of an autumn harvest centuries ago, when the Wampanoag tribe joined the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony to share in the fruits of a bountiful season. The feast honored the Wampanoag for generously extending their knowledge of local game and agriculture to the Pilgrims, and today we renew our gratitude to all American Indians and Alaska Natives. We take this time to remember the ways that the First Americans have enriched our Nation’s heritage, from their generosity centuries ago to the everyday contributions they make to all facets of American life. As we come together with friends, family, and neighbors to celebrate, let us set aside our daily concerns and give thanks for the providence bestowed upon us.

Though our traditions have evolved, the spirit of grace and humility at the heart of Thanksgiving has persisted through every chapter of our story. When President George Washington proclaimed our country’s first Thanksgiving, he praised a generous and knowing God for shepherding our young Republic through its uncertain beginnings. Decades later, President Abraham Lincoln looked to the divine to protect those who had known the worst of civil war, and to restore the Nation “to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”

In times of adversity and times of plenty, we have lifted our hearts by giving humble thanks for the blessings we have received and for those who bring meaning to our lives. Today, let us offer gratitude to our men and women in uniform for their many sacrifices, and keep in our thoughts the families who save an empty seat at the table for a loved one stationed in harm’s way. And as members of our American family make do with less, let us rededicate ourselves to our friends and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand.

As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives. Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come. …” — Barack Obama’s Presidential Proclamation — Thanksgiving Day, 2011

If All Else Fails  — Try Humor

If you are still having trouble cultivating an attitude of gratitude on Thanksgiving Day, it is always helpful to enjoy the humor created by a child’s perspective. Thanksgiving is a time for food, family and fun, and we all know that children and grandchildren are a big part of the fun. Save Mart Supermarkets dared to create a video which captures a child’s perspective on the traditional Thanksgiving experience.  We should warn you that a broad smile is a common side effect of watching this video. Enjoy!

What Are We Thankful For?

Our Thanksgiving Day gratitude list includes the following:

  • Ovarian cancer survivors and their families, who teach us every day about the importance of hope, perseverance, courage, compassion, love, and acceptance.
  • The compassion of medical clinicians who treat ovarian cancer patients every day.
  • The intelligence and dedication of U.S. and international medical and scientific researchers, who doggedly pursue methods to control, and ultimately conquer, ovarian cancer.
  • The generous assistance provided to us by the Women’s Oncology Research & Dialogue (WORD) gynecological cancer awareness organization. Dr. Kelly Manahan (WORD Co-Founder), Dr. John Geisler (WORD Co-Founder), Nate Manahan (WORD Executive Director) and Chad Braham (WORD Director of Media Productions) provide Libby’s H*O*P*E* with invaluable substantive and technical assistance throughout the year, including the newest joint collaboration called “WORD of HOPE Ovarian Cancer Podcast.”
  • The ongoing generosity, encouragement and hope provided by Douglas and Diana Gray through the Gray Family Ovarian Clear Cell Carcinoma Research Resource, a multi-year research project dedicated to understanding, and ultimately defeating, one of the most lethal subtypes of epithelial ovarian cancer.  The Talmud says: “And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” Doug and Diana Gray are passionate about pioneering ovarian cancer research aimed at saving women’s lives.
  • Our families who provide seemingly endless support and understanding, while we advocate on behalf of ovarian cancer survivors and their families.
  • The inspiration provided by Libby’s eternal spirit.
  • The ovarian cancer advocacy communities represented on Facebook, Twitter, Inspire.com, etc., who demonstrate on a daily basis that there is patient empowerment, joy, kindness, compassion, and synergy created by a large number of passionate and dedicated survivors and advocates who band together in cyberspace.
  • The dedicated service of our U.S. military personnel (and their families), who allow us to rise and sleep under the blanket of freedom which they provide each day through blood, sweat, and tears.
  • The roofs over our heads, the food on our tables, the clean water from our faucets, the freedom of speech and religious practice upon which our country was founded, the ability to vote in fair elections, and the simple acts of kindness that we are able to provide to and receive from others.

From our family to yours, let us take this opportunity to wish you a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.